Children Living with Unrelated Adults at High Risk of Death

Kids at 50 times the risk of injury-inflicted death as those living with two biological parents

MONDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Children living in households with unrelated adults are at nearly 50 times the risk of dying from inflicted injury as children living with two biological parents, according to a study published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Patricia G. Schnitzer, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, and colleagues conducted the case-control study of all children younger than five who died in Missouri from 1992 through 1999.

Using data in the Missouri Child Fatality Review Program, the researchers focused on the household composition of children younger than five who were fatally injured by a parent or caregiver. They compared the data to age-matched controls randomly chosen among children who died of natural causes.

Out of 149 inflicted-injury deaths in eight years, the researchers found that "children residing in households with unrelated adults were nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries than children residing with two biological parents."

The authors conclude, "Young children who reside in households with unrelated adults are at exceptionally high risk for inflicted-injury death. Most perpetrators are male, and most are residents of the decedent child's household at the time of the injury."

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